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Biotech Science

First Genetically Modified Human Embryo Under Review 509

Wired is reporting that Cornell University researchers genetically modified a human embryo in 2007, but have only recently been gaining publicity as their work is being reviewed. "The research raises a number of thorny ethical questions. Though adding a fluorescent protein was merely a proof-of-principle step, scientists say that modified embryos could be used to research human diseases. They say embryos wouldn't be allowed to develop for more than a few weeks, much less implanted in a woman and brought to term."
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First Genetically Modified Human Embryo Under Review

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  • what's with the link (Score:5, Informative)

    by slig (1233832) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:03PM (#23384654)
    I'm sure it can't have been slashdotted already. Alternate source here []
  • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:14PM (#23384802) Homepage

    Seriously though, how many people here would love to be fluorescent green?
    The space lawyer [] probably wouldn't mind.
  • by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:24PM (#23384932) Homepage Journal
    I have added fluorescent protein in the lab with e. Coli and it is very simple. There have been quite a few more unusual experiments that involve taking human brain cells and growing them in mice and adding human genes to animals. I think the door is already wide open as they can claim it is not human if it does not have 100% human genome. I wonder if this non human gene is in a human, then are they not human any more by this definition?
  • by jdb2 (800046) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:40PM (#23385100) Journal
    First, I haven't RTFA due to the /. effect but I can tell you that the "thorny moral questions" being raised are caused by the media's incorrect use of the word "embryo" -- either to cater to a dumbed down audience or to be "politically (in)correct" such as to not anger the fundies too much.

    There are *2* stages of development before the blob of a few hundred cells is considered an "embryo". First, there's the formation of the zygote after fertilization, and then there's the formation of the blastocyst. The blastocyst is basically a hollow fluid filled sphere consisting of an outer layer of trophoblast cells which eventually become the placenta and an inner blob of cells called the embryoblast which eventually forms the embryo after the blastocyst phase.

    When talking of "embryos", scientists are usually talking about the extracted embryoblast cells which are pluripotent stem cells. These cells are *NOT* viable and are just that : cells -- they're not going to grow into a baby, or an "embryo" for that matter. Even I would be upset if it were found out that the real embryo, after the start of cell differentiation, had been tampered with.

    To conclude, stem cells are not embryos -- they're just a multiplying blob of undifferentiated pluripotent Human cells and as such, they should be put in the same class as pond scum, although pond scum is actually far more highly developed -- the aforementioned stem cells cannot survive outside of a Petri dish (unless they're implanted into another nutrient source, such as the Human body for purposes of healing)


  • by compro01 (777531) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:51PM (#23386326)
    for those wondering who that was [] (first in the world) [] (first in the US)
  • by extremescholar (714216) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:56PM (#23387196)
    Homicide is legally defined as:

    1) The Unlawful
    2) Killing
    3) of a human being
    4) by another
    5) human being

    Murder 2 adds

    6) with malice

    Murder 1 adds

    7) aforethought

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.